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Arabella

Near Kleinmond - Western Cape

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Hotel GM: Mike Phillipson
Golf director: Mike Munro
Greenkeeper: Derick Bolton (STM)
Club captain: Neil Brown
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 81 out of 100
Conditioning16.1 / 20
Playability15.8 / 20
Aesthetics13.1 / 15
Design Variety11.9 / 15
Shot Values12.0 / 15
Memorability12.1 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow, 6222 metres, CR72.9/127
White, 5813 metres, CR70.9/120
Blue, 5406 metres, CR69.2/114
Red, 4956 metres, CR66.6/108
Women’s white, CR77.1/140
Women’s blue, CR74.6/132
Women’s red, CR72.2/123

Visitor green fee

R1 065 affiliated
R1 700 non-affiliated
Golf cart R595

Course designer

Peter Matkovich 1999

Contact

028 284 0105
www.southernsun.com/arabella-hotel-golf-and-spa/golf

Previous ranking

7 (2023), 8 (2022) & 10 (2021)

Arabella is one of the country’s leading golf resorts, with a golf course that has been consistently ranked in the top 10 since it opened. It occupies one of the most beautiful sites in the world, on the Bot River Lagoon, overlooking distant mountain ranges and attractive countryside. The multi-storey Arabella Hotel & Spa provides residents with the finest of views from garden to lagoon-facing rooms. The accommodation and golf blend seamlessly together. You walk out of your room and descend by lift to the clubhouse on the ground floor.

The scenic Peter Matkovich layout has evolved magnificently over the last 25 years, both as a championship test that has regularly hosted Sunshine Tour events and one that is equally enjoyable for high handicaps. With the land sloping gently down to the water, the opening holes on each nine climb away from the hotel on to level ground before gradually falling away back to the spectacular closing holes on the shore of the lagoon.

Arabella Hotel, Golf & Spa is both a resort and a golf estate, albeit with a small number of permanent residents.

The Arabella Hotel & Spa: https://www.southernsun.com/arabella-hotel-golf-and-spa

Additional Course Facts

Feature Holes

The closing holes on each nine border the Bot River Lagoon. On the front nine the par-5 eighth slopes downhill to a green tucked away in the wetlands, followed by a short par 4 where a bold tee shot must carry the shoreline. From the front tee the green is in range. On the back nine the intimidating par-3 17th is alongside the water; the round finishes with a challenging par 5 that doglegs right around the edge of the lagoon to the green. The short par 4 16th hole has been remodelled in recent years, with the fairway and bunkering moved further right away from homes.

Accommodation

The five-star Arabella Hotel & Spa, part of the Southern Sun group, offers a fitness centre, award-winning spa, swimming pools, and outdoor activities. The multi-storey hotel has views over Bot River Lagoon. The spa has the African Rainforest Treatment, a two-hour sensory water and steam treatment. www.southernsun.com/arabella-hotel-golf-and-spa/accommodation

Practice Facility

A warm-up range for short/medium irons close to clubhouse, plus short game area. Lessons by Andre Loots, a local professional from nearby Kleinmond.

TWO ACES AT NO 7

Arabella resident Connie Mackenzie had her first ever ace on No 7 in February 2023, and her house is on No 7. Three weeks later she repeated the feat on the same hole in the club championships.

Did You Know

1/ Arabella has been a constant in the Top 10 since its entry in 2002. Its highest ranking has been No 4.

2/ Arabella was originally a farm called Laughing Waters whose owner Barry Wasdale astutely saw its potential and acquired zoning rights for a golf course. The name Arabella came from its early German owners.

3/ Arabella has hosted numerous Vodacom Origins tournaments on the Sunshine Tour; the Nelson Mandela Invitational 4 times between 2003 and 2006, starring top players and celebrities; and the 2012 World Final of the Audi quattro Cup.

4/ Former British Amateur champion Garth McGimpsey, from Northern Ireland, won the 2009 club championship.

5/ Golfers generally use carts, but walkers are welcome.

Course Record

64, Alan Michell, Doug McGuigan, 2006 Coca-Cola Championship on Sunshine Tour;
Lee Westwood at NMI and Jake Roos in 2018 club medal

Club Champions

2024 Dave Thompson & Leone Pienaar
2023 Dave Thompson & Amanda Lourens
2022 Al Niddrie & Mandy Sutcliffe
2021 Neil Brown & Keneilwe Moloko
2020 Dave Thompson & Amanda Lourens
2019 Dave Thompson & Gail Witcomb

Course and Facilities Rating
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Course Reviews
Arabella is in just perfect condition from tee to green. So well-manicured. Bushy areas have been cleared right of the fairway on the long par-4 third, which helps speed up play. New tee boxes further left on No 4 for an easier tee shot on this challenging 4 where the fairway slopes from left to right. You no longer have a tall tree to contend with on the driving line. Tees are all level (so good you can even putt on them) greens smooth and quick (watch out for the nap). Fairways perfect, no placing required, bunkers consistent.
Henry Trevena
15 March 2024
Arabella's greens not in the best condition, but always a pleasant experience. The quality difference between the greens and the rest of the course was very noticeable.
Greg Woodbridge
01 February 2024
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Arabella continues to set the benchmark for conditioning in the Western Cape. Notwithstanding the massive rainfall through winter, the course was in excellent shape. Bunkers world class. New tee boxes on fourth hole are a great example of a simple improvement at minimal cost.
David Frost
02 November 2023
The beginning of summer has come as a welcome relief at Arabella after a stormy winter of persistent rain and strong winds. Underfoot conditions were so wet that golf carts weren't allowed on the course for nearly three consecutive months. Most holes don't have cart paths once you leave the teeing areas, although a new cart path is being built at No 13 around the left of the fairway to avoid problems on this par 5. The course has quickly returned to its excellent conditioning, and improved general playability is a feature of this layout. The Slope for men off the yellow and white tees is 127 and 120 which is relatively low for a championship layout. A set of new tees at the fourth has provided a different dimension to this testing par 4 (the old ones are still there), and I like the way the canopies of trees have been raised, and undergrowth removed, so that you can see through to other holes.
Stuart McLean
27 October 2023
Arabella was in excellent condition, and despite playing on a windy day it was a fair challenge. There had been numerous changes, all sensible ones, to the course since my last visit, and these have improved the overall golfing experience and playability.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
03 October 2023
Arabella continues to set a high benchmark for conditioning. It is starting to rival the Fancourt courses for a perennially high standard. Bunkers are world class and an example to other courses not as exposed to wind and rain to the extent that Arabella is. Golf director Mike Munro and course superintendent Derick Bolton make a good team. The new tee boxes Arabella have built on the tough par-4 fourth allow more of the hole to be seen from the tee box as opposed to the somewhat awkward alignment from the old tees. Great innovation that makes for an improved golf experience.
David Frost
22 May 2023
Arabella has some of the most attractive bunkers in SA golf. They frame holes quite beautifully, notably on the par 5s where they also can punish stray shots. There are 13 bunkers on the 13th, a par 5 which has grown in my estimation thanks to the proliferation of white-faced bunkers flanking the fairway. I love the importance of the tee shot here, and how the ideal drive must flirt with the water down the right. The par 5s are all exceptional holes, each very different in their design variety. And they are holes where an indifferent tee shot will immediately put you on the back foot and struggling to make par. Course designer Peter Matkovich is fond of a challenging par-5 18th and the one at Arabella fits the bill in all respects. Great finale to the round.
Stuart McLean
20 January 2023
Arabella was in great condition as it most often is. The course set up was challenging and added to this was a 5-club wind on the day, which brings hazards into play that normally wouldn't be part of the consideration. The course is a visual feast.
Chris Wood
17 December 2022
Playing the par-5 second hole at Arabella I was curious about a striped marker pole in the fairway that hadn't been there on a previous visit. They usually indicate direction of play on blind shots, but No 2 is straight with the green in sight from the tee. And this pole wasn't in the middle of the fairway, but off to the left next to a fairway bunker. What was its purpose? Two more poles appeared on the back nine, at 12 and 16, this time to the right hand side of the fairway. And on all three holes relatively tall wild pear trees had been planted close to the tee. Golf director Mike Munro revealed this is the outcome of a health and safety project conducted earlier this year to minimise the number of golf balls struck off tees into Arabella residences. A "strike triangle" calculation on every hole shows which estate course homes are vulnerable to off-line golf balls and then determines their level of protection. Arabella identified only three holes where there was a risk of endangered homes, and the poles and trees are positioned to try and prevent that. Golfers are encouraged to aim for the poles, and the trees are placed strategically to prevent tee shots being struck towards houses. Arabella home owners are also asked to report each and every golf ball that lands in their properties. Good to see such proactive measures being taken.
Stuart McLean
12 August 2022
A treat to get the opportunity to play Arabella and the experience is always one to remember. Great layout and a good mix of holes offering a variety of shot options. The course was in excellent condition and the greens as good as I have seen.
Lihan van der Merwe
13 April 2022
The course is in outstanding condition and thoroughly deserves to be in SA's top 10.
Keith Simpson
12 February 2022
Arabella has had a busy festive season, with both the resort hotel and golf course filled to capacity. Interesting to learn that the course was open for a limited number of golfers on Xmas Day. Could more courses do the same? Thanks to some rainy weather in December the course is looking exceptional, and it always presents a stunning visual treat, even more so following a successful bunker renovation programme in 2021. They do look magnificent and the white sand has particularly enhanced holes which needed more definition, such as the par-5 13th looking up towards the green. This is a key hole on the back nine in terms of the drive. A bold line off the tee over the edge of the water hazard sets up a birdie opportunity. The putting surfaces are deceptively quick and tricky to read. Local knowledge helps around the greens.
Stuart McLean
31 December 2021
Arabella is looking fantastic following 6 months of work: A mid-September intense hollow-tining, scarifying and verti-cutting. Reshaping the 11th with two visible and nicely defined new bunkers and "forcing" the hole into being an even tougher dogleg. Reshaping many bunkers and changing the sand in all 60. Rebuilding and improving the greenside bunkers on 8 & 17. Reshaping all the tee boxes into "circles," which look great. A new first cut of rough, now clearly defined and a classy addition to the course.
Neil Brown
28 October 2021
Arabella is in great condition and the management is continuously improving on an already magnificent facility. The visual change to the bunkers on the 11th frames the hole much better and the redoing of all the bunkers on the course adds to playing consistency and improves on the aesthetics.
LIHAN VAN DER MERWE
26 October 2021
Arabella is in prime condition and playing beautifully. Fairways and greens in great shape. The recent makeover of the bunkers is looking fantastic.
Lynam
21 October 2021
The Arabella course has been fantastically looked after and the changes have been excellent. The conditioning is fantastic and worthy of a top 5 layout.
Jacques van Wyk
18 October 2021
The perfect golf course. Friendly people all around.
Petra
18 October 2021
The Memorability of all the holes is just one of the amazing features of Arabella.
Mike Taitz
18 October 2021
Arabella is looking magnificent. The golf course has benefited from a significant bunker upgrade during the winter months under greenkeeper Derick Bolton who has served Arabella so loyally since it opened 22 years ago. New sand in all 72 bunkers, and some elegant reshaping, has noticeably boosted the already attractive Aesthetics of the resort layout. The dazzling white bunker faces give many holes extra definition and sparkle viewing from the tee box, notably on the uphill tenth. The 11th has two prominent new bunkers on the right of the fairway which vastly improve the profile of a good par 4 that previously had a weak outlook from the tee. The greens are simply outstanding. And I welcome the construction of a simple starter's hut at the first hole. An essential requirement for a resort facility, being both an attractive feature and shelter for the starter.
Stuart McLean
20 August 2021
Always a treat to play a great layout that is exceptionally well conditioned. Arabella has stunning design variety and a high memorability factor. The team there under Mike Munro have excelled.
David Frost
29 December 2020
A beautiful finish to each nine which leaves a lasting impression.
Keith Simpson
21 December 2020
Arabella has come of age this year, celebrating its 21st anniversary, and it continues to sparkle as one of our premier golf resorts. One of its most endearing features to me is the ease of access for golfers staying in the hotel, which is now part of the Tsogo Sun group. The clubhouse is on the ground floor, and the first tee a short walk away. It's a golf course with many strong holes, yet the playability of the layout is exactly what you want from a resort experience. Riding golf carts, our fourball went round all 18 holes in just under four hours, even with the occasional hunt for stray golf balls. The scenic finishing holes on each nine, each unique in their design, are stunning, and they elevate Arabella into a special category of golf course. Currently the conditioning is right up there with the best I've seen at Arabella, and the greens can only get better now that hollow-tining is over.
Stuart McLean
14 October 2020
The course looked wonderful with all the spring flowers. Recent hollow-tining of the greens didn't spoil the round. I was impressed with the bunkering changes on Nos 4, 10, 13, 15 and 18. Not just aesthetically appealing but making these holes more playable, especially the new bunkering left of the 18th green. Thanks to my playing partners, Albert, Enslin and Sneaky Pete, who made the afternoon more fun than I expected!
Brent Kleve
03 October 2020
Course in excellent condition, lots of attention to detail. Greens are brilliant, smooth, true and run at 10.5 on the stimp. Fairways are like carpets. A must play ?️? Well done Arabella .
Henry Trevena
07 August 2020
It is an absolute pleasure to play Arabella. It is often a windy course, making the length even more challenging. The greens, fringes and bunkers are as good as you will get in the Cape. There are several memorable holes; the par-5 eighth coming down a steep hill; the par-3 17th alongside the lagoon; and a great risk-reward finishing hole. I would wager Arabella has the best set of par-3s of any course west of Fancourt. On the downside, service is perennially poor, the bar expensive and limited.
Hamish Houston
20 March 2020

We played Arabella on a beautiful afternoon and the conditioning was superb. The presentation was world class, worthy of its Top 10 ranking. What's impressive is the variety of shot-making from the varied tees. Some of the tees were set back, making for long carries. From shorter tees it was still a challenge. Arabella holds firm in my personal Top 10. A credit to the crew at a stunning course!

Jon James
17 March 2020
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